Officer Wellness & Safety
Pension plans should recognize fitness for duty examinations as definitive evidence of valid duty or non-duty related disability.
Departmental employees do not regularly undergo fitness for duty examinations. However, in the current plan for both line of duty and ordinary disability pensions, the recommendation of two doctors is required.
Public Safety Officer Benefits (PSOB) should be provided to survivors of officers killed while working, regardless of whether the officer used safety equipment (seatbelt or anti-ballistic vest) or if officer death was the result of suicide attributed to a current diagnosis of duty-related mental illness, including but not limited to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The Memphis Police Department recognizes the importance of death benefits for officers killed in the line of duty or related to duty. Currently, the policy regarding death benefits is governed by the City of Memphis. The city provides a death benefit in the amount of $10,000 to the beneficiary of any active employee, and the State of Tennessee provides $250,000 for line of duty deaths. There are additional death benefits that beneficiaries can apply for with the state and federal government.
Law enforcement agencies should promote safety and wellness at every level of the organization.
The MPD promotes safety at all levels by providing personnel with the safety equipment necessary to successfully mitigate the most likely risks that the individuals will encounter during the course of their duties. The department also provides training during the basic law enforcement course, at annual in-service training, and through specialized courses related to safety issues.
The department also promotes wellness at every level of the department. First, the department has implemented a wellness program to encourage officers to maintain a sufficient level of fitness. The program provides extra paid time off to those who meet the standards. Second, the City of Memphis provides fitness centers at all of the police precincts and the Public Safety Building for use by officers. Third, the city has an employee assistance program, CONCERN, that is free for all employees. Fourth, the MPD has a wellness app that employees can use to track their mental and physical health, as well as self-assessments regarding stress, substance abuse, anger, etc.
The Memphis Police Department is very proactive and continually seeks new and innovative approaches to dealing with mental health. MPD has established peer support officers who are available for officers whenever needed.
Additionally, the department has established a Performance Enhancement Program (PEP) to act as an indicator of potential issues an officer may be having. PEP is considered a non- disciplinary system to try to identify those employees who may need intervention and assistance
Every law enforcement officer should be provided with individual tactical first aid kits and training as well as anti-ballistic vests.
All officers are provided with tactical first aid kits and training related to the items in the kits during the 2019 in-service session. Officers who have graduated from the academy since then were provided the training during the academy. Also, all officers are provided a ballistic vest upon graduating from the basic law enforcement course. MPD policy allows the vests to be replaced every five years.
Law enforcement agencies should adopt policies that require officers to wear seat belts and bullet-proof vests and provide training to raise awareness of the consequences of failure to do so.
The MPD has previously adopted policies that require officers to utilize seat belts while operating motor vehicles and requiring uniformed officers to wear bullet-resistant vests. These policies are introduced during our training academy and reinforced during annual in-service training.
The PoliceOne Below 100 Initiative is frequently referenced related to the impact and potential consequences of failure to follow the policy. Also, periodic information bulletins are distributed department-wide to remind personnel of these policies. Below 100 provides news, training resources, and expert discussion of how to eliminate preventable line-of-duty police deaths and serious injuries through training and awareness.
The five principles of Below 100 are:
- Wear your seat belt
- Watch your speed
- Wear your vest
- W.I.N. – What’s Important Now?
- Remember: Complacency Kills!